Centre for International Health
research project

BabyGel - A cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of household alcohol-based handrub for the prevention of sepsis, diarrhoea and pneumonia in Ugandan infants

Norwegian experts to help halt new born infections and deaths in Africa.

Main content

Specialists at the Centre for International Health (CIH) and CISMAC, at the University of Bergen are to help lead the fight against new born infections and deaths in African countries.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 12 children will die before their 5th birthday, with infection the most common cause. Researchers from CIH /CISMAC will be partners in a study that will be based in Uganda. The study has received a 5.9million Euro (£5.2m/$6.7m) to encourage use of a life-saving hygiene gel made from locally grown sugar cane.

In poorer parts of rural Africa, there is often very little sanitation in homes. With few flushing toilets or hand washing facilities, infection spreads very easily and leads to high rates of infections in children. The BabyGel study will test whether the use of sterilising alcohol hand rub in communities can prevent infections in new born babies.

Project rationale

The University of Liverpool’s Professor Andrew Weeks, who is leading the project, said:

  • “Trying to find ways to prevent infection in the home is very difficult. Researchers have put toilets and sinks into many villages, but found that they are rarely used.
  • “Alcohol-based hand rub however is cheap, highly effective, and can be made locally in Uganda from sugar cane. Women love it for the effect it has on their hands - it has proved to be very popular.
  • “This large, randomised trial will show whether it also prevents infections in newborns. If it can, then we will be looking to include it in delivery packs for every expectant mother”.

Trial details

The randomised trial will take place in Mbale District, eastern Uganda over the next five years. It will be run by the Tropical Clinical Trials Unit of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the Sanyu Africa Research Institute (SAfRI).

The European Developing Countries Trials Partnership (EDCTP) funding randomized control trial, entitled BabyGel, will be led by Professor Andrew Weeks at the University of Liverpool. Professors Thorkild Tylleskär and Ingunn Engebretsen from CIH / CISMAC at the University of Bergen will participate in the project, undertaking postgraduate training, while doctors from Makerere University, the Ugandan Ministry of Health, Mbale Hospital, the University of Exeter and Busitema University will provide expert input.

Learn more about the BabyGel study from SAfRI’s web pages.


This project is part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union